EP39: Hollaback G

Can what’s written at Jeremiah 33:3 really be true? Can we truly call on God? And will He actually hollaback?

We all have embarrassing or unusual childhood stories our parents love to tell, don’t we?

And You Thought YOU Were Weird

When I think of the cringe-worthy stories most often told about me, I think of:

…how I hated being barefoot, ever, in any scenario. I could be completely naked, but – as long as I had socks on – I was fine (so much to unpack there, but we’ll move on).

…how, when staying overnight at a friend’s home, almost every single time, I would get up in the middle of the night, sneak out without waking anyone up, and walk or ride my bike home, where I would then sneak in to my home without waking my parents up (so many commitment issues).

…how, during summer breaks, in anticipation of another full day of playing baseball or basketball or roaming the nearby woods with my neighborhood friends, I would always get up super early…and then have to wait an hour or two for anyone else to get out of bed. Local parents hated me for knocking on their door at 6:27 AM to ask if Kevin was up yet, or 7:13 AM to ask if David was ready to come out and play, when they knew that I knew Kevin and David weren’t getting up any time soon. As a six or seven year old, I was actively attempting to manipulate local parents into altering the sleeping patterns of their children, and they damn well resented that.

F the Phone

But the most oft told story of my early years is that I was seemingly born with a hatred of phones.

In fairness to me, I have good reason for that, as I grew up an only child in a very small, modest home.

With a mother who literally LIVED on the phone.

So, my early years were spent trapped in a situation where I could not escape the sound of her talking on the phone.

Fast forward to now, many decades later, and I STILL hate the phone.

I’ve had all phone notifications turned off on my iPhone as long as I can remember.

I physically recoil when someone else’s phone rings.

I commonly ask people to turn their phone notifications off in my presence (I am serious).

I’ll stop there, lest this post go even deeper into the weeds, and reveal even more of the little shop of horrors that is my psychological profile.

But you get the gist: I hate the phone. I hate phone calls.

This Segue Makes No Sense

This is the most brutally awkward transition you may ever read.

But please hang with me.

It will all make sense in the end.

I promise.

I recently had a home listed for sale (as context, I own a real estate company, and I sell real estate for a living).

A beautiful $700K+ home located in Northville, Michigan.

The owners had moved out of state, and, as part of simply doing my job, I was checking on the home at least every other day to ensure everything was secure and in perfect condition for showings.

I also checked on the home after every showing, to ensure things were in order and that the lights had been turned off, the home had been locked up properly, etc.

Just Do It Tomorrow

There was a showing on that home one night.

At about the same time as the showing, I went out and had dinner. At dinner, I had a couple of drinks. And I also stayed at the restaurant a lot longer than I had originally intended.

At that point, before taking a break for dinner, I had already worked nearly 11 hours, and I was completely exhausted.

I also had more work to do once I got back home.

As I was about to leave the restaurant, I thought, “I know I planned to check on that house tonight, but I can just as easily do that first thing in the morning. What’s the difference, really? I’m sure everything is fine, plus the home is vacant. What can go wrong?”

Change of Plans

And as soon as I said that, I was hit with this massive, overwhelming urge that I can only describe as someone saying to me, “No. You will NOT defer that task until tomorrow. You will do it now. RIGHT NOW.

That’s how it really felt.

Like I had been ordered to comply with that prompting.

Like I had no say in the matter.

Like I was receiving a phone call from God Himself, demanding I take that specific action.

So, that’s what I did.

I drove over to the house, unlocked the front door, and walked in.

“WTH?” Part 1

When I took the first step inside, I was hit with a wave of heat.

The house was normally kept fairly chilly because it was vacant.

Not only that, but this was taking place in the dead of winter, in Michigan.

Which makes the home even colder, obviously.

This time, the house felt like it was close to 80°, which is a good 15° warmer than normal.

As I walked from the foyer around the corner into the kitchen, I could see that someone had left the fireplace – which is a dual sided gas fireplace that separates the eating area of the kitchen from the family room – turned up to what appeared to be the highest possible setting on the flame.

The fireplace was audibly ROARING.

I walked over and stood in front of the fireplace, and it was hot, just standing there.

I crouched down and felt the hardwood floor in front of the fireplace, and it was super hot to the touch.

At this point, it was around 8:00 PM, and the showing had been scheduled for 5:45 PM.

Assuming the people stayed 30 minutes, which is sort of typical, that fire could have been burning like that for two hours, easily.

I found the remote control for the fireplace, and turned it off.

“WTH?” Part 2

I then checked the sliding glass door between the room I was in and the backyard patio.

It had been left unlocked.

So, a real estate agent who shall remain nameless NOT ONLY left a gas fireplace blazing on its highest setting, but he had also left the primary entrance to the back of the home unlocked.

I was SO pissed.

Even more so, I was so RELIEVED and so THANKFUL that something had so strongly compelled me to check on the house when I did…

Never Had That Urge Before

Prior to this particular incident, I’d checked on that home in that manner probably 12 to 15 times.

Not once had I ever felt an urge or a prompting to do so.

I did it because it was simply the right thing to do.

I was just doing my job.

Not once had I ever found anything of note.

That night, I had a serious urge to check on the house.

And I found TWO of the more egregious things I have ever found in a situation like that.

So, what’s your point, dude?

Sorry, I know this post doesn’t flow well.

But you’ve come this far, so you might as well finish. #LOL #TWSS

Getting to the ultimate point, and trying to at least loosely connect what’s been said so far, one of my favorites scriptures is Jeremiah 33:3, which says this:

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” 

See, even though I still hate the phone, I call on God.

Truth is, I do that every single day, and often multiple times per day.

I “holla” at God a lot.

I call on God simply because I have the knowledge I obtained from reading that particular scripture, which has become one of my favorites over the course of the last five to 10 years, and because of the results I believe that practice has produced.

How I Holla

What does that mean, exactly?

What does it mean to “call to God?”

Of course, this is highly subjective.

For me, it’s as simple as stopping whatever it is I am doing and focusing on Him.

It’s exactly like meditating, except I am focusing specifically on God, and on His Word.

Sometimes, for no specific reason, I will stop what I’m doing, close my eyes, and pray.

I will pray something like this:

Dear Lord, you are the great creator of the universe. You know everything there is to know. Your ways are higher than my ways. You are the Alpha and the Omega. You know the beginning from the end. Victory rests with you. You determine every outcome. Right now, I call to you, and ask that you tell me great and unsearchable things I do not know. At Jeremiah 33:3, your Word promises that you will do that, and I know that you are completely reliable, faithful, and trustworthy, and that your Word is literal, infallible and true. Please send me direction in terms of the way that I should go and the things that I should do. Direct my footsteps, my thoughts and my actions. Lead me in the way that I should go, in everything I do. Thank you for hearing this prayer, dear Lord.”

Other times, I do something far less formal.

I will think, “Tell me something I don’t know, dear Lord,” and that’s the totality of it.

Very often, absolutely nothing happens.

I get no sense of any response whatsoever.

Hollaback G

But sometimes – as happened on the night I am describing – I get a clear, concise, powerful directive that is too overwhelming to ignore.

What I believe happens in these situations is that God honors the prior requests I have made by telling me things from time to time that I would never otherwise know.

He returns my call.

He hollas back.

To be clear, I don’t actually, physically hear God’s voice.

He doesn’t LITERALLY talk to me.

I simply receive – exactly as I did that night – a feeling.

An urging.

A prompting.

A prompting so strong I feel I have no choice but to act on it.

Jeremiah 33:3 on Repeat

I believe I position myself to receive these urges and promptings by consistently calling on God as per Jeremiah 33:3.

I am taking God at His Word, and trusting Him to be faithful to what He has promised.

I can’t prove any of this, of course, because nothing can be “proven” as it relates to the existence of God, and certainly not from a secular perspective (and if we could prove His existence, He really wouldn’t be that fantastic of a God, would He?).

All I know is what I have experienced personally.

And what I have experienced personally is that God is 100% reliable.

He honors His Word.

I believe He did so that particular night by prompting me to check on that house as quickly as possible.

Would something have happened if I hadn’t checked on it that night?

I will never know, of course, but the thought of that fireplace blazing on its highest setting all night, with a wood floor on one side, and highly flammable carpet on the other, is sobering.

Not to mention the door being left open.

Lots of things could have gone wrong.

But they didn’t, because I believe I was led to act faster than I would have otherwise.

Don’t Believe in Luck

Maybe I was just lucky, you may be thinking.


Could be.

The thing is, I don’t believe in luck.

I believe in God.

And what happened that night was just another of the many examples I could share with you that I would describe as “God telling me something I did not know.”

God returning my call.

This Story is B-A-N-A-N-A-S

If you’re not a believer in the God of the Christian Bible, this story is laughable.

As a person who’s spent most of my adult life trying to talk myself out of believing in such things, I totally get it.

I can already hear what you’re probably thinking right now…

Everything happens randomly.

There is no such thing as “Divine Intervention.”

God doesn’t exist.

And you certainly can’t call Him.

And He’s never going to call you back.

You know, because He’s isn’t real.


Or, as Gwen Stefani said it in the song I’ve been alluding to throughout this post:

A few times I’ve been around that track

So it’s not just gonna happen like that

Or Is It?

If I hadn’t experienced what I experienced that night – and so many other things like that, to the point where I have lost count of all of these inexplicable experiences – I would be right there with you, Gwen.

But at this point, my problem is this: I’ve experienced so many instances in which it actually made more sense to believe than to not believe, that I now find myself in this place where all doubt as to the reality of God’s existence has been eliminated.

As a result, even though I still hate the phone as much as ever, I call God.

I call Him often.

Sometimes, He hollas back…

Hollaback, G!

Brad Powell NorthRidge Church